Byron basks in Festival glow
By HELEN JACK
CATCHING some sun while wearing sensible hats at the 2007 Byron Bay Writers Festival, Lisa George and Elizabeth Fullerton, both from Sydney, were taking time out from being inspired.
Having planned their escape from the city around the festival, both women agreed Byron Bay's festival was better than Sydney's recent writer's festival in many ways.
"The milieu is fantastic and it's set in a sublime environment," said Ms George.
"It is very different to Sydney's festival because it is confined geographically, it's easy to access and to come and go."
Ms Fullerton said anyone could dip into any seminar, listen to what they wanted then go to the next.
"Without having to go traipsing distances across Sydney to the next seminar wondering if it's worth the dough," she said.
"It's very important for there to be a voice for readers and writers from within the region, like here."
Journalist, author and speaker at the Festival Gideon Haigh said weather for this year's festival was a lot drier than last year's
"I like going to see other writers because they often look just like I imagined," he said.
Philippa Roberts, of Wardell, said this was the second year she had attended the Festival and had planned ahead what she wanted to see.
"I've planned to see It's UnAustralian, Going Too Far and Dumbing Down Australia," she said.
"These things interest me.
"I'm not a writer but I don't think you need to be to be here. I am a reader and that is just as important."
Each author speaking at the festival wrote because they were intensely interested in their subject matter.
Not because they wished to pursue the title or career of writer.
Being a writer was almost an accident or necessary action of transcribing the world they had created in their imaginations or relating the information they had sniffed out like terriers after the proverbial rat up a drain pipe. And each was unique.
Gideon Haigh and his self-effacing humour describing his painstaking research on James Hardie for his book The Asbestos House and his unfathomable knowledge of cricket.
Or the delightful Debra Oswald chatting up the kids and making them laugh while telling them about her latest book Getting Air, the story of kids in an outback town campaigning for a skate park.
The Byron Beach Resort was alive with a throng of about 10,000 people over the course of the festival, up from 9000 festival goers in 2006 all soaking up sun, fun and inspiration.